Tuesday Oct 22, 2019. 11:00
The financial fall-out in Kenyan football is set to claim its first club in the coming weeks with 2006 league champions Sony Sugar on the brink of closing shop for this season.
The team has already had to forfeit matches against AFC Leopards and Tusker, and if they do likewise against Kisumu All-Stars this coming weekend, as is expected, they will be automatically relegated to the second-tier.
Sony Sugar are one of six clubs petitioning the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to suspend the Premier League while they search for new sponsors after a crackdown on betting in the country saw SportPesa exit and take their much-needed money with them.
The club says they will now have to release players, and have no way of paying to host matches, and will start again in the second-tier in 2019/20.
“We will have to accept fate and make the decision, however tough it is,” chairman Gabriel Otiende told reporters. “The company has been struggling, hence we cannot bankroll the club. We had attracted a sponsor at the start of the season but he left without wiring a cent to our accounts, the genesis to our tribulations.
“If we do not get a sponsor in the course of the week, we will proceed to release the players and assemble others in preparation for life in the NSL [second division].”
Otiende also blamed the FKF for the collapse of a television deal with South African satellite channel SuperSport, who he says were “chased away” by the inability of the organisation to keep their promises.
“I was part of the team which negotiated the SuperSport deal in South Africa. The current FKF regime chased them away by introducing two teams in the league contrary to the terms we had signed for with SuperSport,” Otiende added.
“They pledged to cater for the two teams and four years down the line, nothing has happened. The league standards dwindled after their exit which we squarely blame on FKF.”
Chemelil Sugar are another team to have forfeited their last game due to cash constraints after they were a no-show for the fixture against Bandari FC on Saturday.